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Finding the ghosts of Hawaii: Mysteries in paradise

April 24, 2022
4 min read
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Hawaii conjures up images of beaches, surfing and picture perfect ocean views. But ghosts?

Even in paradise, those beyond the grave are among the living if you know where to look. And for those who want to know more, there is a tour experience that looks deeper into Hawaii's ghost stories.

"It's a cultural experience, things that they never knew about historical things that they were not aware of, that they can't find in any tour, magazine or pamphlet," said master storyteller Lopaka Kapanui of Mysteries of Hawaii, a company that offers several walking tours to Hawaii's most haunted places.

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"That's the advantage of being a cultural practitioner and a native of a place where you know a lot of the information that is not written down. Because we Hawaiians had a spoken language, everything was transmitted," he added.

(Photo by Leezel Tanglao/The Points Guy)

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Experience vs Tour

While they are labeled as "tours," Kapanui said the more accurate descriptor for the walking tours he offers through Mysteries of Hawaii are "experiences."

"I'm a storyteller, not a tour guide, so I'm not working for tips. The reason why it's an experience is because it becomes about the people who show up and much less about myself. And so according to people's capacity as far as spiritual reception or perception, depends upon how the thing goes. Sensitive people will experience things," he said.

Kapanui took over the experience from his former boss Glen Grant, who started a Honoulu ghost tour in the 1970s. Kapanui said it's been quite a journey since he took over the business.

"It was very strict about getting everything straight facts," he said. "I had to listen and remember a tour that was from 7 p.m. in the evening to 2 a.m. in the morning. There are seven stops and every stop had two hours of stories, which I had to memorize," he said. "And my mother trained me in the same way, which sort of freaked me out when I first met my boss. But you know, now I realize it was meant to be."

It's the reason why Kapanui said his tour experiences are different, because they are drawn from Hawaiian oral traditions.

Mysteries of old Honolulu

During a Saturday in early March, I took the monthly "Ghosts of Old Honolulu Walking Tour." This 90-minute experience started in downtown Honolulu. My group was small but very engaged as Kapanui laid out some ground rules before we followed the paths once walked by royalty.

Kapanui emphasized they do not use scare tactics: "There is no one hiding in the bushes to frighten you," he said. "We don’t pretend to see things that are not there."

From the state library building where we started, the group walked over to the Iolani Palace where we heard stories about sightings of Queen Lili‘uokalani from an upstairs bedroom where she was once imprisoned for months after the overthrow of the Hawaiian government.

From there, we walked across the street to see the Kamehameha Statue, Banyan trees, the courthouse and the post office, also known as the King David Kalakaua building, which all have historical backstories and are supposedly filled with ghostly appearances.

The post office, for example, is believed to be haunted by the ghost of a postal worker named Benedict Westkaemper. At several points during the experience, we were were asked to take pictures of each other in front of the Banyan trees and in the post office, and some of the pictures later revealed something or someone in the shadows.

Kapanui also asked us to record ourselves near the Banyan trees and the courthouse where major events have taken place and ghostly sightings continue to haunt the grounds. "That's why I tell people that this is really about you and how your energy, your mentality, and the things you bring with you right now," said Kapanui.

Related: Traveling to Hawaii just got a whole lot easier; TPG was among the first to try it out

Bottom Line

Hawaii is more than just beaches, surfing and good food. It is home to realms of spirits whether you know it or not. You can discover more if you dare to explore further.

Featured image by (Photo by Leezel Tanglao/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
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  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
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Rewards Rate

3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

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Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases